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Improved jikos in manyattas: Environment wins, youth gain as local women provide market

Readers Lounge By Wesley Kipng'enoh
Petroline Sarai using her energy saving jiko

Communities in Laikipia North, Kenya are embracing the use of improved energy saving jikos in their manyattas.

The adoption is a move from traditional three stoned jikos synonymous with manyattas in the arid and semi-arid lands.

“I have been using three-stone fire, but I changed to this,” Petroline Sarai, a beneficiary of the improved energy saving jikos says. “It has an advantage because I would collect firewood three times a week.”

With the energy saving jiko now installed in her home, things have changed. “I now go for the firewood once every week, because, with the new jiko, firewood is less consumed,” Petroline explains. The new improved jiko, she adds, gives her an easy time when cooking. “I don’t need to worry about spilling food, or using too much firewood”

Who installed the stove for you, we ask her? “I was trained on how to install the improved jikos, and so I did it on my own,” she responds.

Caroline, a resident of Laikipia North with an improved jiko in the comfort of her house

Petroline is among 30 youths from two groups in Laikipia North who benefited from the IMARA program where they were trained and equipped with skills to install the improvised jikos.

Installation business

The installation of the improved jikos in manyattas has also been converted into business models by the two youth groups in Laikipia North.

“We were trained on materials needed, how to construct them and install the jikos at home,” says Francesca Sanaipei, a youth member of the Ntaiwa Naaishipa Women group.

The group has three improved jiko models, each with a different price- lowest goes for 1500 shillings, and highest goes for KSH 7000 including the building materials.

“That’s how we are making money,” Sanaipei adds, with excitement.

But where do the women in the community get the money to pay them for their services? Well, through saving for transformation groups, the women are now borrowing loans to fund the installation of the jikos,”

“With savings for transformation group, we allow our members to borrow some money to have improved jikos installed in their homes,” Gregory Kinyaga, Nasieku Savings Group Says secretary.

Saving’s for Transformation is savings concepts where community groups can save, borrow from themselves and also have money to run the welfare of its members.

Livelihood and Resilience Specialist Joseph Ethekon says that the key to creating economic empowerment is by creating sustainable business models in the community.

Francesca Sanaipei (left) from the Ntaowi Youth Group with World Vision's programs officer Leah Wanja demonstrating how the improved jiko works

The youth were trained and equipped with skills to install the improved jikos. They took it and converted it into a business model. “They realized that they had a ready market- the women, who have been using traditional three stoned cooking fire,” Joseph says. The youth groups approached women in the saving for Transformation Groups because they were a ready market for them.

“We’ve worked with women groups on simple, but effective ways of savings and how to ensure that the there are returns on their small investments,” Ethekon says.

Environment care

“For this kind of investment on the jikos, the return is on the environment,” Margarate Makui, Natural Resource Management Specialist says.

Indeed, Energy-saving jikos are more hygienic than the traditional ones, consume less fuelwood, saves times, and money for women who buy fuelwood.

The improved jikos installation as a sustainable business model is supported by a Swedish-funded program in arid and semi-arid lands dubbed IMARA.

"It is impressive that we introduced these fuel savings stoves, and the community is now driving that agenda. Constructing jikos for each other,” World Vision’s Operations Director Tinah Mukunda says.

“This is beneficial for the children living in these homes, and we have seen how it is less work, and saves time. Children get time to read, go to school.” She adds.

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